Houthis claim ‘catastrophic’ attack in Red Sea as crew abandons ship

Houthis claim ‘catastrophic’ attack in Red Sea as crew abandons ship

Aerial view of a tanker.

Bugto | moment | Getty Images

The Iran-backed Houthi militant group damaged a ship off the coast of Yemen on Sunday, prompting the crew to abandon ship. The recent escalation in maritime tensions has led to the disruption of key trade routes in the Red Sea.

Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations said on social media it had received a report of a ship attack in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off the coast of Yemen, adding that the crew had abandoned the ship.

“The anchored vessel and all crew are safe,” the UKMTO said.

Houthi fighters later claimed the attack occurred. Spokesman Yahya Sare’e identified the ship as the general cargo ship Rubymar and described it as British. Data from VesselFinder and MarineTraffic.com indicate the ship is flying the Belize flag.

Houthi forces have previously said they only target Israeli, British and US tankers, but are known to be conducting hostilities against other vessels.

According to MarineTraffic.com, the Rubymar was traveling from the Saudi port of Ras al-Khair to Varna, Bulgaria.

“The ship suffered catastrophic damage and came to a complete standstill,” Houthi spokesman Sare’e said. “Due to the significant damage the ship has sustained, it is now at risk of sinking in the Gulf of Aden. During the operation, we ensured that the ship’s crew exited safely.”

CNBC was unable to independently verify the ship’s status. Global maritime risk expert Ambrey Analytics told CNBC via email that the ship was still afloat around 8 a.m. London time.

“The partially loaded vessel briefly slowed its speed from 10 to six knots, deviated off course and contacted the Djiboutian Navy before returning to its previous course and speed,” Ambrey Analytics said in a private note to clients, adding “It had received “advance reports of the incident of at least three rockets observed flying towards Bab el-Mandeb.”

Increasing attacks by the Houthis, who claim to be supporting Palestinian civilians as Israel wages a retaliatory military campaign against the militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have paralyzed maritime traffic through the Red Sea, which accounts for about 12% of global sea transport. Several shipping companies – including a Danish giant Maersk – and oil companies have suspended trips through the Red Sea or rerouted ships to take the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope.

Trade in crude oil and oil products is particularly at risk given the large number of major producers in the Middle East. At 11:46 a.m. London time, that Ice Brent contract with delivery in April traded at $83.15 a barrel, down 32 cents a barrel from Friday’s settlement. The Front month March Nymex WTI contract was at $79.05, down 14 cents per barrel from the previous close.

The hostilities have also led to armed clashes between Houthis and British and American forces, which had previously attacked Yemeni targets to improve maritime security. Sare’e said the Houthis also shot down a US drone in Hodeida on Sunday.

U.S. Central Command carried out “five self-defense strikes” on Saturday against three anti-ship cruise missiles, an underwater drone and a drone boat in Houthi-controlled regions of Yemen, saying the actions would “protect and internationalize freedom of navigation.” “To make waters safer and more secure for the U.S. Navy and commercial vessels.”

CNBC was unable to confirm any of the strikes.

In a separate incident, Ambrey Analytics sent an alert Monday informing it that an unnamed, Greek-flagged, U.S.-owned bulk carrier was calling for military assistance in the wake of a “missile attack” east of the Yemeni port city of Aden. CNBC was unable to verify the report.

Source link

2024-02-19 11:54:08